The financial crisis has supposedly put a damper on this year’s Christmas shopping frenzy, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it. The crowds are just as thick, the decorations just as cheesy, the shopping just as stressful. If you’re not quite ready to boycott the holidays but want to try something a little bit different this year, read on. The Prague Daily Monitor has put together a list of gift-shopping tips – small shops, locally-made products, Czech designs.
Original fashion and accessories
A number of fashion stores offering the creations of young Czech and Slovak designers around Prague offers a variety of untraditional, stylish, crazy, funny, breathtaking, scary dresses, coats, T-shirts, underwear, jewelry, toys, bags and unidentifiable objects that you will feel compelled to buy. So, if you are struggling to find an original, very special present and would also like to support local talent, stop by Parazit – Karlova 25, Parazit (Karlova 25, Prague 1), Toalette (Karolíny Světlé, Prague 1) or Pour Pour (Vinohradská, opposite the church at Jiřího z Poděbrad).
It’s almost impossible to resist the wide selection of design products offered at either of the two Naoko stores located next to each other at Revoluční. Naoko Eat&Drink offers kitchen items and cooking equipment, and Naoko Home&Fun sells home decorations and gifts (you may have heard of their personal ducks of various designs – e.g. surfer, astronaut, camouflage). You can also select your gifts online, order them via email or telephone and have them delivered or pick them up at the store. The shop also sells gift vouchers in the value of CZK 500 and CZK 1,000.
Antiques and antlers
If you’re looking for something with a bit more history, try Galerie Art Deco (Michalská 21, Prague 1). Visiting the shop feels like snooping around in your great aunt’s closet. Pressed glass perfume flasks line the shelves. Hangers droop under heavy fur coats and stoles. And on racks, shelves and tables, you’ll see hats of every shape and shade. The store also has a great selection of lamps, including an exquisite 1930s Bakelite desk lamp. And, now that Christmas is approaching, boxes of antique glass ornaments and brass candle holders you can clip onto your tree.
If you’re feeling adventurous or simply want a better deal, visit a flea market. Prague’s biggest, and arguably the best, is situated just outside the Kolbenova metro stop on the B line. This could be the place to find the perfect set of deer antlers (there is a vast selection), an art deco lamp, a 1960s board game or a First Republic china set. Don’t be put off by some of the dodgy displays of car radios, carburators and used tyres in the front section of the market grounds. Spend long enough hunting around, and you’re bound to stumble upon something priceless.
The outdoor market is open every Sunday and Saturday from 6am to 1pm. CZK 10 gets you in.
Vom Fass – From the casks
For food or alcohol gift ideas try Vom Fass at Bělehradská in Vinohrady. The newly-opened shop offers fresh oils, vinegars, wines and spirits of various types, sometimes including unexpected ingredients. Grape seed oil, ceps extra virgin olive oil, honey vinegar, mango-lime liquor, forest raspberry spirits – all these specialties, as well as various types of grappa, cognac and whisk(e)y can be sampled before you decide what you want. Everything is fresh and decanted right in front of you from casks and glass containers. The shop offers bottles of various shapes and volumes that can be wrapped up in gift packaging.
Spice things up
U Salvátora, a little shop near the National Theatre (Náprstkova 2, Prague 1) will take you back in time – from the ringing of the old door bell, to the fantastic smell of spices, to the funny old cash register. The store sells all kinds of spices, including vanilla pods and other hard-to-obtain items, as well as their own spice mixtures. Try the goulash mixture, “svíčková” for the traditional Czech meal, and “roštěnkové”, a mixture of paprika and other spices that goes perfectly with beef.
Svět oříšků stores offer a wide variety of dried fruit and nuts, but also dried tomatoes, Basmati rice and different kinds of lentils. Liquorice sticks, nougat and jellies can make an excellent Christmas gift for those with a sweet tooth.
Coffee and tea gourmets, meanwhile, will appreciate presents from La Bohème café, a company that offers high quality coffee and also sells Harney&Sons exclusive teas. The coffee mixtures are chosen, blended and roasted by the company and therefore represent a distinctive selection. The online shop offers special Christmas packages, as well as decaf coffee, organic and cup of excellence.
Just a few steps from Wenceslas Square, Centrum FotoŠkoda offers everything a photographer needs. But if you want something special, why not try a book of your own photos? Download a free program (unfortunately it does not support MAC OS system) at www.fotoskoda.cz/c5091-fotokniha, choose your images and bring them to Centrum FotoŠkoda on a CD, a USB memory stick or send them over the internet. Your photo book should be ready in 24 hours.
Do you have a favourite place to buy gifts? Send tips or comments to [email protected]